Gratitude, say religious leaders from many traditions, is one of the most important spiritual disciplines for a whole and healing life. And the discipline of remembering what and who you are most grateful for is especially important in difficult and even dangerous times like these. There are gratitude prayers, meditations, and walks, which focus our minds and hearts on the things and people we are most thankful for when we are most easily conscious of the things and people who make our times most difficult and even dangerous.
For me, our Thanksgiving holiday becomes a time every year to remember the practices of gratitude and how important they are for our lives and the world. So in a year especially characterized by things that have made me deeply disappointed, concerned, worried, fearful, and angry, let me name my top 10 sources of gratitude at Thanksgiving 2017. (Not in any particular order.)
- Parents who put their children’s lives and well-being as primary in their own schedules.
- The indigenous people who led the way at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline and who demonstrated to us the vocation of stewardship for the earth.
- The women who are standing up to tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault — and the men who have called out their peers.
- Black pastors who are willing to speak the truth to power and protect their young people from increasing racism by finding themselves in the streets and not just in their pulpits.
- White pastors who love their people enough to preach the gospel to them, even if their white parishioners are motivated more by the agenda of Fox News than the gospel.
- Black and brown Christians who have called out their white brothers and sisters who say they didn’t vote for Trump because of his racial bigotry, but for other reasons, by saying I guess that wasn’t a deal breaker for you.
- Global church leaders who are willing to exemplify the body of Christ as the most racially diverse community in the world in sharp contrast to the American bubble where racial geography trumps theology, and for American church leaders who are willing to denounce “America First” as a heresy.
- Principled Republican conservatives who have been willing to stand up morally and politically to Donald Trump — like Mike Gerson, Peter Wehner, David Brooks, and Russell Moore.
- Conversations with people who tell the truth like Bryan Stevenson, Michelle Alexander, William Barber, Brittany Packnett, Margaret Atwood, Valarie Kaur, Eboo Patel, Joe Kennedy III, and Mark Shriver. Find those conversations at Audible.com.
- Thanks be to the God who loves and sustains us while we try to figure out our strategy every day!
And it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that I am grateful for all the people in our extended Sojourners community who make all our work possible.
In times like these, it can be hard to frame our lives through a lens of gratitude. This Thanksgiving, I am deeply thankful for all of you – our sojourners from around the world who have come together when you were most needed to stand with those most vulnerable and at risk.
In the face of every injustice, we have stood strong, held fast, rooted ourselves deeper and deeper into the faith that sustains us. Every day that we have remained rooted is a victory, and every victory is thanks to you and to our loving God.
To show you just what you have made possible for supporting Sojourners, we have just released our 2017 Annual Impact Video. Please take a look and see what your actions and donations have done in 2017 – and please consider making a year-end donation to continue supporting all of our work as Sojourners into 2018.
On behalf of all of us at Sojourners: thank you.